5 Ways You Can Help Disaster Victims: Natural Disaster Relief
Technology has made it easier than ever to stay up to date on what is occurring around the world, including when a natural disaster strikes. Thanks to credit cards, giving platforms and modern shipping services, it is easy to get involved and give back to those in need.
Disasters may also strike close to home and impact members of your community directly. After a disaster, how can you help your community? Maybe you woke up in the middle of the night to a tornado. Your home and family are safe, but other areas of your local community have been destroyed. People were left with only the clothing on their backs. Their homes were destroyed and they must deal with the aftermath.
How can you help your community when a disaster occurs? Read on to learn five ways you can help local and global disaster victims and provide natural disaster relief.
How to Help With Disaster Relief
After a natural disaster, the many types of help needed can be overwhelming, and you may feel unsure of where to start. From giving money, providing immediate necessities or donating blood to those who have been hospitalized, you have several options. These are five ways you can help disaster victims and provide natural disaster relief:
1. Donate to Catholic Charities Focused on Relief Services
Donating money after a natural disaster is a great way to provide relief where it is needed most. Money offers the flexibility for relief organizations to focus funds on recovery efforts and evacuation zones.
Communities affected by natural disasters may not feel the full impact of the event until years later. Disasters can stop community members in their tracks, hindering them from reaching their goals and getting out of the difficult situation they’re in. That’s why Catholic World Mission aims to help communities overcome hardships by putting the disaster behind them and working to restore a brighter future.
Accredited Catholic charities like Catholic World Mission are a great resource to pool your donation with other members of the community to make a larger impact. If you want to know more about what your money will support, explore the charity you want to donate to. Their website may provide more information about the specific Catholic relief services they have provided, including where and how donations have been used.
If you are unable to donate as much as you would like on your own, consider starting a fundraiser so your community can get involved. Partner with a local parish or school to collect donations and lead the charge. If a fundraiser is not feasible, consider starting a campaign on a crowdfunding platform, such as GoFundMe. Online giving platforms have made it easier than ever to raise funds to support natural disaster relief for those who were impacted.
2. Send Goods and Supplies to Those in the Recovery and Evacuation Zones
When a natural disaster strikes, people often rush to safety and have little time to think about their belongings. They may only be able to grab a few things that they can carry on their way out. This means people are left without necessities such as food, water, toiletries, clothing and more.
The following is a list of some of the best things to donate after a disaster:
- Non-perishable food
- New underwear and socks
- Can openers
- Feminine care products
- Combs and hairbrushes
- Towels and washcloths
- Fuel cans
You may want to work with your local parish to set up a collection drop location. After the drive, volunteers can assist with boxing and shipping the supplies that were donated. The above list provides recommendations for general relief, but different types of natural disasters may require different items. For example, if you are wondering how you can help victims of an earthquake, consider sending flashlights, batteries and work gloves.
3. Donate Blood
Natural disasters can result in major and minor injuries for those involved. This sudden increase in blood usage can deplete reserves and result in a dire need for new blood donors.
Donate blood to help ensure there is a stable supply available for those in need and to save the lives of those who have been injured in a natural disaster.
4. Foster Pets
While we often see pictures of people after a natural disaster, it is important to consider the pets that are also displaced. In some instances, the evacuating family cannot take their pets along when they flee for safety, or the pets are lost during the disaster. Consider opening your home to foster pets, especially if you live in an area that is safe and not directly impacted by the disaster.
Working with a local animal shelter is a great way to get involved and determine the steps needed to become a pet foster parent.
5. Volunteer to Help
Do you have special skills that may be useful in a disaster? From medical knowledge to construction know-how, your skills may be valuable in the aftermath of a disaster. Call a disaster relief organization to find out ways you can get involved and if your specific skills can help. Consider volunteering with other members of your parish.
It is common for too many people to travel to an area to provide assistance. This can result in chaos and delays in assisting those in need. If your skills are not needed at the site of the disaster, consider choosing one of the previous options to get involved and make a difference.
Additional ways to help those in need include:
- Consider opening your home to those who have been displaced by the disaster.
- Offer child care while families navigate their next steps, including meeting with relief organizations or filing insurance claims. Learn more about caring for children in a disaster.
- Send needed supplies from the list above directly to loved ones who were impacted.
- Offer space for loved ones to store their lockbox of essential and financial documents.
- Offer your loved ones a safe space to share their range of emotions, including fear, anger and grief.
- Commit to praying for those affected by the disaster.
Provide Relief Today With Catholic World Mission
Regardless of how you help others after a natural disaster, you can bring help and hope to those impacted by a challenging experience. You don’t have to wait until a natural disaster strikes to get involved with Catholic relief services. Preparing ahead of time can ensure more resources are available when disasters strike.
Learn More About Catholic Inspiration & Encouragement
Deacon Rick Medina is the Executive Director of Catholic World Mission and oversees the management of all of Catholic World Mission's projects in over 35 countries. He was ordained a deacon of the archdiocese of Atlanta in 2013. He currently serves at All Saints Catholic Church in Dunwoody, Georgia, and is active in several ministries, including RCIA, baptism preparation, Life Teen, Altar Server group, Grief Share, and Adult Faith Formation.